Sunday, October 28, 2007

God Grew Tired of Us

The most uplifting moment of this documentary comes not during its run time but in one of the special features. It’s there we learn that the filmmaker, Christopher Quinn, was the catalyst for getting these “Lost Boys” to the US. He was visiting the African refugee camp and decided he wanted to help; he also wanted to film it all but his primary motive was altruistic.

I hope more people will Netflix this or find it at their local video store. It opens with the story of the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan, thousands and thousands of boys who left their homes during the Sudanese Civil War in the late 80s. The government was systematically killing all boys in southern Sudan. The ones who did escape traveled thousands of miles to safety, first to Ethiopia and then to Kenya. They took care of themselves, providing each other with family and support and love. They had no idea if any of their family members were still alive. Most missed their mothers terribly.

Quinn and his co-director, Tom Walker, follow three young men who are sent to the US to go to school and earn money with the help of various Christian organizations. Two, Daniel and Panther, are sent to Pittsburgh while a third, John, is sent to Syracuse. Their initial reactions to the plane, to electricity, to trash cans and toilets and dish soap - and to the vast array of foods in a market - are hilarious and touching. In three months they learn an awful lot, although they are very homesick. They do what they can to provide a family and to maintain their culture here in a very weird place.

All three end up pursuing very different paths but with a similar goal: to make the world a better place. They are such strong individuals, such tremendously positive role models for all of us. They could easily have given up or become selfish after all that happened to them but they felt personally responsible for helping their families and the other refugees back in Africa.

I consider myself fairly well-read and well-informed politically but I knew nothing of this story. I wish I had known about these boys a long time ago.

Your Hollywood connection,